With a Golden Globes nomination for this role already under her belt, Reese Witherspoon has been doing things right lately. Many other awards are pending from film festivals, etc., for Ms. Witherspoon, Laura Dern and their director, Canadian Jean-Marc Vallée ("Dallas Buyers Club"). The script by Nick Hornby ("About a Boy") is based on Cheryl Strayed's memoir: "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail."

Our distraught heroine sets out on a one-woman 1,100 mile trek along the Pacific Crest Trail, through California to Oregon. Her beloved mother has just died and we can see she clearly is overloaded with both camping and emotional baggage. Flashbacks teach us just how wild she has been, AND we learn how she came by that last name. Over the course of the movie she meets people along the way, some generous and kind; others ...not so much. We also see the elements in her life that shaped her and hurt her.

The cast:
  • Reese Witherspoon ("The Good Lie") There's very little Cheryl hasn't done and her psychiatrist can't get her to admit she's sorry.
  • Laura Dern ("The Fault in Our Stars") Bobbi is determined that her children will not have their lives scarred by their drunken, abusive father. She is incorrigibly upbeat...to her daughter's dismay!
  • Keene McRae ("CBGB") Leif refuses to believe his mother might die, as though thinking might make it so.
  • Gaby Hoffman ("Veronica Mars") is Cheryl's best friend, Aimee. Hers is the voice of reason as she watches her friend come undone.
  • There is a wide assortment of men who appear and disappear, both along the trail and in flashbacks. Suffice it to say, Cheryl is seldom alone for very long....
The first I encountered anything like this was when I watched "The Way," with Martin Sheen. If I watch enough of these movies, eventually I will come to understand these "trails." Evidently they are marked out, with rest stations along the way and guest books for hikers to sign (Cheryl's comments generate interest among other hikers). Packages can be sent ahead from friends and family to intercept the trekker with replacement items, such as new boots (from REI), fuel, and/or money. She also receives letters from her ex, for which she is deeply grateful.

This is R-rated and rightly so! Expect drinking, drug use, sex, nudity and a heavy barrage of "F" bombs. I had to remind myself I was really watching Reese Witherspoon pull off that bloody toenail! And take off all those clothes! And topple over with that enormous back pack!

I was glad I had the option of closed captions, as much of the dialogue consists of interior thoughts as she hikes. Eventually she decides she'd rather be a hammer than a nail and the music on the soundtrack echoes her thoughts.
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Here is a preview:
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